Every year, more money is spent promoting the use of alcohol than any other product. Perhaps through its elaborate and creative marketing, the most basic, yet important fact about alcohol is often overlooked — alcohol is a drug — the most commonly used and widely abused psychoactive drug in the world.
One concept that many people find difficult to accept is that alcoholism and alcohol problems are a disease. Research has shown that alcohol interacts with the body’s systems in predictable ways to lead to physiological addiction.
Alcoholism is a disease — a chronic, progressive, fatal disease if not treated.
Short Term Effects
Even at low doses, alcohol significantly impairs the judgment and coordination required to drive a car or operate machinery safely. Low to moderate doses of alcohol can also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including domestic violence and child abuse.
Effects of moderate alcohol intake include dizziness and talkativeness. The immediate effects of a larger amount of alcohol include slurred speech, disturbed sleep, nausea, and vomiting. “Hangovers” are another effect after large amounts of alcohol are consumed — symptoms including headache, nausea, thirst, dizziness, and fatigue.
Long Term Effects
Prolonged, heavy use of alcohol can lead to addiction (alcoholism). Sudden cessation of long term, extensive alcohol intake is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions.
Long-term effects of consuming large quantities of alcohol can lead to:
• permanent damage to vital organs
• several different types of cancer
• gastrointestinal irritations, such as nausea, diarrhea, and ulcers
• malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies
• sexual dysfunctions
• high blood pressure
• lowered resistance to disease
Mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants may suffer from mental retardation and other irreversible physical abnormalities. In addition, research indicates that children of alcoholic parents are at greater risk than other children of becoming alcoholics.
Alcohol is a legal purchased product for adults.
Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Addiction
Additional Online Resources
Alcohol Treatment & Adolescents
Alcohol: What You Don’t Know Can Harm You
A Lesson Learned About Alcohol from Harry Potter
Effects at Specific B.A.C. Levels
Take an Alcohol Screening Test
The Role of Parents in Preventing & Addressing Underage Drinking
Tips for Teens: The Truth About Alcohol
Despite the tireless efforts of thousands of advocates, impaired drivers continue to kill someone every 30 minutes, nearly 50 people a day, and almost 18,000 citizens a year. Remember — impairment begins with the first drink.
Alcohol affects individuals differently. Your blood alcohol level is affected by your age, weight, gender, time of day, physical condition, prior amount of food consumed, other drugs or medication taken, and a multitude of other factors. In addition, different drinks may contain different amounts of alcohol, so it’s important to know how much and the concentration of alcohol you consume.
The body metabolizes alcohol at the rate of about one drink per hour. Does drinking strong coffee or taking a cold shower have an effect on the person who is drunk? The answer is yes — the result being an alert, cold, and wet drunk. Time, and only time can sober a person up.
A woman of equivalent weight drinking an equal amount of alcohol in the same time period of time as a man may have a higher blood alcohol concentration than that man. Therefore, women should refer to the BAC chart for women.
|Blood Alcohol Concentration Estimate – for Men|
|DrinksA||Body Weight In Pounds||InfluenceB|
|A One drink is 1.25 oz. of 80 proof liquor, 12 oz. beer, or 5 oz. of wine
B Subtract .01 for each hour of drinking
|Blood Alcohol Contentration – for Women|
|DrinksA||Body Weight In Pounds||InfluenceB|
- More than 100,000 U.S. deaths are caused by excessive alcohol consumption each year. Direct and indirect causes of death include drunk driving, cirrhosis of the liver, falls, cancer, and stroke.1
- At least once a year, the guidelines for low risk drinking are exceeded by an estimated 74% of male drinkers and 72% of female drinkers aged 21 and older.2
- 65% of youth surveyed said that they got the alcohol they drink from family and friends.7
- Nearly 14 million Americans meet diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorders.5
- Youth who drink alcohol are 50 times more likely to use cocaine than those who never drink alcohol.3
- Among current adult drinkers, more than half say they have a blood relative who is or was an alcoholic or problem drinker.1
- Across people of all ages, males are four times as likely as females to be heavy drinkers.1
- More than 18% of Americans experience alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence at some time in their lives.6
- Traffic crashes are the greatest single cause of death for persons aged 6–33. About 45% of these fatalities are in alcohol-related crashes.4
- Underage drinking costs the United States more than $58 billion every year — enough to buy every public school student a state-of-the-art computer.2
- Alcohol is the most commonly used drug among young people.1
- Problem drinkers average four times as many days in the hospital as nondrinkers — mostly because of drinking-related injuries.1
- Alcohol kills 6½ times more youth than all other illicit drugs combined.2
- Concerning the past 30 days, 50% of high school seniors report drinking, with 32% report being drunk at least once.2
1 Substance Abuse: The Nation’s Number One Health Problem, Feb. 2001
2 Mothers Against Drunk Driving
3 National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
4 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
5 Alcohol Health & Research World
6 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Analysis
7 The Century Council